Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen has welcomed the announcement from government that Teesside International Airport will receive a slice of £100m being made available to support airports as they recover from coronavirus.
The £471,000 grant, which is the equivalent to the Business Rates that the airport would have paid in 2020-21, means Teesside Airport will pay nothing in Business Rates next year – helping to protect jobs and the local economy.
The funding comes as the Transport Secretary announced plans to reduce the time needed in self-isolation after travelling abroad.
From December 15, passengers returning from overseas will be given the option of having a coronavirus test after five days in isolation, with a negative test releasing them from the need to isolate for any longer.
Mayor Houchen said: “The coronavirus pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on the global aviation industry, this announcement shows that this government understands how critically important regional airports are to local prosperity and jobs.
“Back in January, when we announced new routes no one could ever have foreseen what 2020 would have in store but, despite the setbacks, the airport continues to move forward and we are already putting the building blocks in place for a strong 2021.
“We’ve reintroduced a route back to London Heathrow, the biggest airport in the country, we have an ever-growing summer 2021 schedule, Loganair is returning to our airport and TUI the UK’s biggest holiday firm will once again fly from Teesside in 2022 after a nine-year absence.
“Our airport is more than just summer holiday flights though, as important as these are. I’ve always said that for our airport to be the success we all want it to be, it has to be about taking full advantage of the opportunities the whole of the airport site offers.
“That’s why it is a key part of my plan for jobs. Global aviation firm Willis Asset Management chose our airport, ahead of locations across Europe, for their maintenance base and planes are now rolling in to be repaired and stored. We’ve broken ground on the £200m Southside logistics and manufacturing park too which, when operational, could create 4,400 jobs for local people.
“Of course, we couldn’t have made so much progress without the tireless efforts of our dedicated staff. Yes, aviation globally is going through a difficult time, but we’ve not made any redundancies and those members of staff that are furloughed are having their 80% Government contribution topped to their usual salary, so they can be safe in the knowledge of a full pay packet in the run-up to Christmas and beyond.
“While our airport is temporarily closed to passengers, we’re investing in our airport terminal. From a £1m overhaul to our security to a new look for our arrivals hall, we’re giving our passengers an airport for the 21st century that they can be proud of.
“The coronavirus has touched all our lives and turned everything upside down, but I know the people of Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool, we will beg through these difficult times and we will come back stronger.”